When I was busy launching The Iron Harvest in January, I didn’t get much writing done on Book III, the final book of the trilogy. And then February and March I was focused on finishing my play. It’s a small literary comedy drama and is the opposite of The Lattice Trilogy in almost every way, but it was important for me to have a little bit of a break from the global stakes of my sci-fi books.
Now that that’s behind me, many people want to know when I’m going to publish the final book. Well, I want to know that as much as anyone. I started writing The Lead Cloak (which is free on Kindle right now by the way!) back in 2011, and I would very much like to wrap things up for my readers and for myself.
Over the course of this trilogy, I’ve kept a log of my word count over time. So if I write a thousand words one day, I make a note. And then if I write two hundred words on a day a month later, I make a note of that. Do that every day you write, even if it’s only 30 words, and eventually you have a chart of word count over time. It produces a nice graph like this one:
You can see when I was on fire, when I was on a break from the book, and when I was just plodding along, a few hundred words at a time (the majority of the time. Just like anything else, a book frequently happens one page at at time). But at the end of the process, I was at the top of a one-hundred-thousand-word mountain that it had taken more than two years to climb. (Yes, I find charts and graphs very inspiring. Sue me.)
That’s how I’ve always looked at this chart of my progress.
Recently I realized this data also tells me something else. It tells me how many actual days it took me to write the book. Sure the entire process took two years. But there are many flat spots on this graph where I had a lot of long gaps between writing days. So how many actual days did it take me to write The Lead Cloak?
Which works out to be just under five months of writing 750 words a day.
Truthfully, that number feels pretty amazing. I wrote a 400 page novel in just 143 days! (*cough* so what it those 143 days were spread out over more than two years?) And that counts all my days of editing! The first draft was complete in roughly 110 days.
What about Book II?
The Iron Harvest took me about two and a half years to finish, so it felt like I was working on it for a very long time. But it was actually only 136 days of writing and editing (at about 620 words per day—it’s a little shorter than Book I).
And now for Book III?
So here’s the big question I’m wondering about. Can I write Book III in roughly the same number of days as the first two books, but just dramatically reduce the time in between actual days of writing? Could I be done with it in less than 146 days measured in both calendar days AND writing days?
On one hand: no. Once I finish the first draft it will need to sit for a bit. And there’s always a process in the give and take with beta readers and editors. But on the other hand… that doesn’t mean I couldn’t try to step up my game for the first draft!
I’ve been thinking about Book III off and on since I planned out the trilogy. So I have a pretty good idea of what happens. I just have to write it. I already have 20 writing days under my belt, with an average of 750 words per day. So I’m at my usual pace. Can I keep it up consistently? I truly don’t know. But I think I’m going to try.
This blog post is my marker. Wish me luck!
P.S.—Last fall, we did a whole episode called “How do you write a novel?” on the Media Carnivores podcast. If you’re interested in this topic, you should definitely check it out!